Exactly 1 year ago, after two emotionally grueling weeks of trying to be "Mom" to my 2 year old Ethan and 4 year old Elliana, and at the same time be everything to our 2 week old preterm Emsley, we finally got the pass to bring Em home from the NICU and begin life as a family of five.
This summer has made me do a lot of reflecting on this past year and it's effects on me and our family as a whole.
This past year was my toughest in this journey of motherhood and it changed me for the better.
To begin with, any time you introduce a new child to the family it changes the dynamics and is a tough transition on everyone. Not to mention with each new child a mom learns who each little person is, and what makes them tick. As if that's not enough she has to learn what it's like to now juggle 2, 3 or however many children are in the family. I knew the transition from 2 to 3 would not be easy considering my transition from 1 to 2 was not an easy one.
My point in all of this though, is that this past year, with each challenge that it brought, is the year that I would say changed and defined me as "mom".
I've always been a little unsure, and even insecure in this role. I would immediately make a list of excuses or apologize around other moms for the decisions I was making or for the reasons my child(ren) was/were acting the way they were. Or apologetically explain why I couldn't nurse as much or as long as I wanted to, why I had to supplement with formula, why I discipline the way I do, or wince at the fact that I had 3 c-sections.
But this year changed all of that. For the first time in my 5 1/2 years of being a parent I leaned on the truth that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". I would look at each day and each challenge and say to myself "I've got this. I can do this. There is no better mom for my children than me." It wasn't just a pep talk, I really believed it! While this did not make me a perfect mom, it made me a better one.
For the first time this year I could make decisions with more confidence and not care as much about what people around me thought. Instead I only cared about what the need at the time was and how each child needed me, the mom that I am.
When our baby needed more medication and I knew it was going to cost a small fortune, I researched as long as it took to find the cheapest way to get her what she needed. I knew when I needed to stay home for weeks on end to get my children healthy that they would be loooong weeks but well worth it.
At the beginning of this summer I decided Ethan was going to need some pushing to get him potty trained. I also am a firm believer in waiting for the child to show signs of potty training, but I could tell that he is the type of personality that needs a little (or big at times) nudge. It was a rough start, and I have many not so lovely stories to share about our rough road with potty training him, but I can now say we've turned a corner and he is doing SO well! It's so rewarding to know that we worked together and we did it!
I could go on, but you get the picture. It feels good to be this person now. I'm far from perfect and I make mistakes, often daily. But I love being confident in knowing that God had a plan in choosing them for me and me for them. I know how to read my children, I know what they need. I have a better feel for when I need to push them, when to discipline them and when to give them grace. I need to be their protector, their nurse, their provider, their biggest fan, their confidant, their guide and the one who shows them how to respect their father and ultimately point them to God.
I know my journey as a mom is far from over, it's actually just begun in a lot of ways. I know I still have many, many more challenges to face. I once heard that the older the child, the bigger the problems. I believe this is true. While I'm sure it will some day be nice to be free of diapers, bottles and nap schedules, I can't imagine what it will be like to face challenges like struggles at school, problems with friends, broken hearts, peer pressure with drugs, sex and alcohol.
I've heard before that motherhood is the most challenging and most rewarding thing a woman can do, and it is 100% true for me. The most challenging? yes, without a doubt! But definitely the most rewarding. The days are long and the years are fast and through it all God is carrying me while I carry them.
When I don't have answers, I'm so thankful for the fact that I can turn to God who is a perfect father and is perfect in love.